Some of the greatest white wines in the
world come from Germany. When made from the Riesling grape, by a
well-respected grower; German wines can be extremely complex and deliver
The cool climate is just one of the
factors explaining why German wines are some of the most difficult to
make. Several of the vineyards lie at the northern limit for wine
production. Nonetheless, in good years the grapes ripen slowly and can
provide a wonderful balance between fruit and acidity. Winemaking was
introduced to the region by the Romans who observed where the snow first
melted, indicating where grapes might successfully ripen.
A grading system evolved, which linked
quality to grape ripeness, rather than vineyard location. This notion
has been challenged by several respected growers, who argue that precise
location is equally important. Traditionally, QMP (Qualitätswein
mit Prädikat) wines, are made without chaptalisation (the addition of
sugar prior to fermentation) and are categorized depending on the degree
of natural grape sugar at the time of harvest.
The categories are as follows:
Kabinett: very light and perfect as
Spatlese: distinctly off-dry.
Auslese: much sweeter, with some
noble rot apparent in some cases.
Beerenauslese (BA): rich, intense,
Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA): made
from individual handpicked berries, 100% noble rot. The richest wines,
at best balanced with crisp acidity.
Eiswein: picked at BA ripeness or
above when frozen. Sweet, intense and with pinpoint acidity.
Two new generic labelling terms have been
introduced: 'Classic' and 'Selection'. Linked to dry wines made from
traditional grapes, 'selection' indicates that the wine comes from an
individual vineyard in one specified region.
Germany's wine regions of note include
Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Rheingau, Nahe and Pfalz. The steep, south-facing
vineyards of Mosel-Saar-Ruwer overlook the River Mosel and its
tributaries, the Saar and the Ruwer. Slate soil is important here. Mosel
wines, traditionally sold in tall, green bottles, are pale in color,
light in body, with racy acidity and elegance.
Rheingau wines are fuller in style, with
the river Rhine being influential. The vineyards, such as the
Rüdeshermer Berg, are also angled steeply. Halfway in style between a
Mosel and a Rhein. Nahe wines are fresh, clean and sometimes 'minerally'.
Wines from the Pfalz region are growing in
popularity. Pfalz has the warmest climate of Germany's wine-growing
regions and is home to some of Germany's most innovative winemakers and
some exciting wines. Certain wines, such as those from the Lingenfleder
estate, excel. However, Pfalz is also home to a great deal of
"Top-quality estate wines from Germany
once fetched higher prices than first-growth Bordeaux!"
Understanding the Label - Germany
- Trocken - dry
- Halbtroken - semi-dry. In
Germany, the grower and grape variety is worth nothing.
- Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter
e. V (VDP) - group of estates whose members have agreed to a set of